5 Steps to Building
Your Prospecting Plan
A step-by-step approach to creating a
prospecting plan that brings clients to you
By Mike Lesmeister
Home Loan Specialists
What’s Your Favorite Part
• Sharing the excitement of first time buyer when they find their home.
• Helping expectant parents sell their too small house or condo and find the
perfect place for their growing family.
• Easing the mind of retirees or aging baby boomers that want to downsize
their homes and lifestyles.
• Finding solutions for people that thought they’d never be able to buy a
• Targeting an urban area that offers busy singles or young couples a home
that meets their criteria for work and recreation.
There are lots or rewarding and exciting parts of a job as real estate agent.
Now, if we asked the opposite – what’s your least favorite part of your job – we’ll probably get
one simple answer: Prospecting for new business.
Prospecting is down-right scary to some people. The idea is frightening – putting a plan
together for contacting virtual strangers and trying to sell them on your services.
Actually, prospecting doesn’t have to be a scary proposition at all. Good prospecting is an
extension of you – it’s not a sales job, but an opportunity to share your passion and interest
with others, and as a result, help them sell their homes and/or buy a home.
Why Prospecting Hasn’t Worked Before
Fear or discomfort of prospecting has stopped many agents in their tracks. Either they don’t
attempt to prospect for clients, or they make brief attempts at prospecting only to become
frustrated with efforts that don’t immediately produce. They don’t see a return on their
prospecting dollar so they quit working it. Prospecting correctly is becoming a lost art.
The single most common reasons that prospecting hasn’t worked is because the agent hasn’t
taken the time to develop a prospecting plan. Without a plan, the agent is just running in place
– not getting anywhere.
That’s where this plan is different – we’ll walk you through five steps to put a plan in place.
Once you have your plan ready, you can start prospecting – painlessly. So, if you’re ready to
build your business, turn to the next page where we’ll begin developing a plan.
Step 1 – The Analysis and Planning Phase
Developing Your Unique Selling Position
An important part of marketing any business is you have enthusiasm and excitement on your side.
evaluating what you offer and how it’s different You aren’t bound by old habits – you accept input
from your competition. Let’s face it – real estate is and constantly try to improve your skills.
an incredibly competitive industry. There are some
expert agents out there, there are some If you’ve worked as a realtor for years, you know
inexperienced agents that need to get a few sales the ins and outs of the business. You can eye a sale
under their belt, and there are some people that and find possible problems. You know how to
don’t want to expend the time and energy needed to market a property to get the most attention.
develop a quality business.
What is your background?
Unfortunately, to the potential client, these real
estate agents all look the same. You need to figure A background in sales and marketing gives you a
out how to make it easy for the customer to discern unique advantage when it comes to marketing
what that difference is – that difference is your properties. You have an understanding of how to
Unique Selling Position (USP). attract buyers, how to read clients to better
understand their needs, answer questions and look
Your USP is vital, because it can be used to develop for buying cues.
a niche market – a focus for your prospecting
efforts. So, what is your USP – what is it that sets A background in finance or banking gives you a
you apart from your competition? unique understanding of the mortgage process. You
can foresee potential problems with loans closing.
Maybe you already know what your USP is, or
maybe you need a little help jump-starting the A background in construction or contract work
process. The following questions will help you gives you unique insight into whether a property is
define your USP. planned and built well. You can look for potential
How old are you?
How long have you lived in your
If you are in your twenties or early thirties, you are
positioned to understand the first time buyer market. intended sales area?
You probably have lots of friends that are getting Are you a native of the intended sales area? Then
married. What’s the next step after marriage – you probably have a unique perspective of how the
buying a home? area has grown and changed. You know what
neighborhoods are good, how the school systems
If you are in your thirties and forties, you have changed, which neighborhoods have been
understand the segment of the market that’s looking revitalized, which are being expanded at record
to “move up” from their starter home to something a rates, where problem traffic areas are, etc.
Did you relocate to the area from somewhere else?
If you are in your fifties, sixties or older, you Then you know what it’s like to relocate – how you
understand the segment of the market that’s find the best neighborhoods, schools, stores,
downsizing from the family home into smaller medical services, etc.
homes or condos, or even interested in investment
properties. What makes you stand out in the community?
Are you part of one of the top selling brokerage
What’s your experience? firms?
If you’ve just started working as an agent, you have
an advantage of not being jaded by the business –
Do you have a web-site that gets more hits per level of name recognition among other participants.
month than any other? Are you actively involved in You can use this group as a base to build your
any community groups or charities? efforts, especially if your business will in some way
help the charity to grow.
These are important considerations when defining
your USP, and as you can imagine, they tie in quite For instance, you can offer a service to church
well with creating a niche market. visitors to tour the area, or you can dedicate a
percentage of your sales commission back to the
What is Your Niche Market? charity. Many people are more than willing to work
with someone who shares the interests and
One of the biggest mistakes in prospecting is generosity of spirit.
attempting to cast too large of a net. Of course, you
want to contact as many prospective clients as
possible, but when you make your prospecting How Can You Target Your Niche?
efforts universal to appeal to a broad base of clients, Once you’ve identified your niche, what are some
you lose that ability to communicate your USP. methods of reaching that niche and presenting your
That’s why niche marketing becomes so effective. It
allows you to narrow your marketing efforts to a When you prospect a neighborhood or group, there
single defined group, to get their attention by are three primary ways of prospecting:
demonstrating how you can stand out from the rest
of the competition. • Telephone calls
• Knocking on doors
Some of the niche markets to pursue are: • Mailings
Geographic area – Choosing a specific geographic Even though these methods of prospecting are fairly
area is a great way to focus on prospecting efforts, standard, your approach to them, and your targeting
but you need more than just merely working a of a specific group, is what makes the difference
neighborhood. What is it that ties the area to your between a scattered effort and a highly focused
USP? How can you make that a value-added focus prospecting plan.
to your prospecting materials? Have you lived there
and been a part of the community, or hav you For instance, many apartment complexes have a
recently moved and spent a lot of time investigating, community center. How about contacting the
etc? apartment complex to see if you could host a first-
time buyer seminar? A hands-on question and
If you are going to target a geographic area, find out answer period is far more likely to capture the
everything you can about the neighborhood. Know interest of a prospective buyer than merely a
where the parks are, the schools ranking, and the mailing.
best places to shop. If you truly are a specialist in
this area, you need to prove it. Spend some time making notes about your USP and
how it could possibly translate into a niche market.
Personal interests – Are you extremely involved in
some activity that may have established a presence
or name credibility? For instance, if you belong to a
private golf course or country club, you know other
members. A logical niche would be pursuing
listings in the area around the club.
Charitable endeavors – If you are involved in a
charity, or even a church, you already have some
1. Define your Unique Selling Position. What makes you stand out from the
2. How can you use your USP to create a niche market?
3. What are three specific methods you can use to reach this niche?
4. How many hours will you commit to prospecting each week?
Step 2 Your Mind Set Prospecting Isn’t Selling
Many people approach prospecting as if it makes
Perhaps the single most consistent factor affecting them hard pressure sales people. In reality,
your ability to prospect effectively is your prospecting is just the beginning of the sales cycle –
attitude. the beginning of a relationship. Prospecting isn’t
trying to sell, but merely the first step in the
As mentioned earlier, many people approach relationship, especially in real estate where the sales
prospecting with fear or frustration. Who wants to cycle is lengthy and requires a great deal of hands-
do something they hate? It’s inevitable that you on work.
will eventually stop doing that which makes you
uncomfortable or unhappy. Your attitude is crucial to your success in
prospecting. If you are positive and upbeat, you are
But is prospecting all that terrible? far more likely to connect with people.
Prospecting Is On-Going You’ll make changes as necessary and keep working.
You will definitely get frustrated if you keep trying to
To have a successful real estate career, your do something that doesn’t work – but the answer isn’t
prospect efforts won’t just be a one-time event. that you need to give up the effort, instead you need to
You will need to devote time each week to revise the approach.
prospecting, even if it is just sending out
Of course you’ll try to get potential prospects Step 3 Getting Started
from referrals, but you’ll still continually need to
prospect to bring in a steady stream of clientele.
You’ve made a good start by identifying what you
have to offer clients and finding your niche market.
Prospect Wherever You Are Where do go from here? There are a number of steps
Even though you’ve identified a niche market, you need to develop as you begin prospecting.
you should have your antenna up for prospecting.
It should be a natural part of your life: when you Develop a Budget
meet people introduce yourself and discuss your
real estate business. Even if people you meet Before you begin, how will you connect with your
aren’t inclined to buy or sell a home chances are niche market?
they know someone who is. You should always
ask new acquaintances if they know someone that • Are you sending out a mailing?
wants to buy or sell a home. What’s the worst that • Are you buying leads?
can happen? They may say “no” and you move • Do you have a personal brochure for
on. Big deal. prospects?
• Are you advertising in the local newspaper?
Make prospecting part of your daily routine -- • Do you plan to send a follow-up gift to
when you are shopping, banking, traveling, prospects?
running errands, stopping for coffee, etc. Always
have business cards available to hand-out, get the Almost all marketing efforts have some kind of cost
names and numbers of the people you talk with to associated. Once you have a plan, you can determine
follow up later. how much money you need to carry out your plan.
Prospecting Doesn’t Always When you first start out, money may be tight. You
best approach is to start knocking on doors –
Follow Your Plans theoretically, all it should cost you is gas money and
No matter how carefully you plan, how intensely shoe leather; but in reality, you want to leave
you research your niche market, there’s always a something with prospects reinforcing your USP.
chance you may not get the results you’d hoped.
What most people do is get frustrated. They give There are a number of options for easily putting
themselves all kinds of messages like “I can’t together a brochure – it doesn’t have to cost a fortune.
prospect, I’m no good at this.” There are a number of Internet print companies that
offer templates for real estate agent brochures. You
A plan is just that – a plan. It doesn’t mean that can simply go to these sites, input your personal
you won’t occasionally need to step back and information, and then print. The company will ship the
review it, analyze the results, and then make some printed, color brochures to you – usually within the
adjustments. space of a few days.
That’s the beauty of the plan; it can change and be If you are planning on sending a gift or leaving behind
revised at any point. If you plan to have a some kind of novelty item (pens, refrigerator magnets,
successful career in real estate, you’ll need to calendars, notepads, etc.) you can usually get these
build your prospecting skills because you won’t same items through the Internet print companies, or
always be targeting the same neighborhood, and you may be able to find a local supplier. Usually, you
the same niche.
can get these items in a huge range of prices,
starting at mere pennies and going up to hundreds
of dollars. Select an item that reflects your target Businesses
market -- new, first time buyers might be looking Another way to build your database is to work with
for a household budget kit, a calculator, shopping other businesses that support your service.
lists, etc. Mortgage, title & escrow, inspectors, interior
decorators, home improvement are a short list of in
Ask other Realtors what they’ve used that works industries you can network.
or if they have resources for printing and
purchasing that are reasonable in price. You may The contacts you develop with these sources go into
also be able to order together to get a break on your database. Some may choose to work with you
pricing. right away and others at a later time.
Networking Planning Your Presentation
Your initial efforts focus on two things – building Before you get started with your prospecting, take
a database of potential clients and active clients. time to work out your presentation. This may mean
developing a script to follow. You don’t want to seem
It’s easy to overlook the most obvious source of stiff and unnatural, but you also don’t want to appear
referrals – your family, friends and acquaintances. unprepared.
Before you even begin prospecting to total
strangers, take some time to let everyone know Developing a script helps you think of all the points
that you are in business and you want to help you want to discuss with the prospect, and possible
people sell or buy their home. response to questions.
Don’t assume this group of people couldn’t Once you have your presentation rehearsed, you can
possibly contribute to your business. They may deviate from it in a more natural way. You won’t
know someone interested in buying or selling, seem scripted, just well prepared.
and chances are they won’t think about it on their
own, but your gentle nudging will help them Getting Out of the Office
bring it into focus.
Sometimes the biggest obstacle is just doing it. It’s
Just ask the simple question – “Do you know easy to procrastinate prospecting. The best approach is
anyone who wants to sell or buy a home?” work a plan – either you are going to devote Monday
and Tuesday to prospecting, or you’ll plan to work
Start by asking: certain hours of the day for prospecting – whatever
works with you and your clients schedule, but as we
• Relatives said it must be an ongoing activity.
Calling people on the phone to prospect used to be an
• Members of church
option. The advent of the “Do Not Call” list has made
• Member of other activities – like PTA,
that approach difficult. Here are two ways you can
sports teams, golf buddies
• Former school mates 1. Mailings, with follow-ups; or
• Trades people 2. Face to Face conversations
• Former coworkers
• Acquaintances you meet at dinner parties Mailings can be an effective tool for introducing your
• Professionals you associate with USP, at least when used appropriately. About 99
(doctors, lawyers, accountants, teachers) percent of mailings end up in the garbage and is why
• Former clients you have to make your marketed mailings stand out to
the customer. Many marketing experts recommend
Even if people in this circle don’t currently know including a small gift or item – something a little bit
someone, just your reminder that you’re looking bulkier than the average envelope. Of course, the
for business will help if they do meet someone in premise is that people are less likely to throw away
the near future. something when it has a gift in it.
Perhaps the most underrated method of prospecting is Retiring, quitting or moving agents – ask these
doorbell ringing, but it’s certainly a method destined agents if you can work any of their open prospects,
to bring about results. they may want a referral fee on any business that
closes, but it’s better than just letting the prospect
If you’ve targeted a specific neighborhood, start drop.
walking through the neighborhood and approaching
people in conversation. You’ll be amazed at the The next step is to take the information you’ve been
number of people that are either thinking about gathering and put it to use.
selling, or perhaps know someone interested in buying
in the neighborhood.
Step 4 Organization
This is especially true for neighborhoods that are
“hot”; sometimes the homes sell before they are ever
Let’s say you start to get a great listing of names.
listed. You can’t count on walk-in business, you need
Maybe you have twenty or thirty names – now what
to get out there and aggressively market how you can
do you do?
help these clients.
You first need to organize your database. You’ll
For Sale By Owner (FSBO) find some great contact manager software to help
Another prospecting tool is the For Sale By Owner you maintain your listing. Many are geared
properties. The great thing about these properties is specifically for real estate professionals. You want a
that you know the owners want to sell. And chances contact manager that gives you a mechanism for
are -- their homes are not getting the kind of exposure tracking the number of times you’ve contacted the
or interest that they would want. prospect, their response, mailings sent, etc.
Many agents start prospecting by driving through their Following Up with Prospects
target neighborhoods and looking for FSBO signs,
Few people are going to make a decision about
writing down the phone numbers, and contacting the
listing or buying a home with a particular agent on
owners. It can quickly become a great tool in your
the first contact. You will need to contact your
prospects repeatedly. When you drop the ball, that
prospect will find someone else to help them.
Take In Orphans
Do you ever kick yourself when you see a prospect If you aren’t able to continually call prospects, settle
listing with another agent? Chances are, you’d let that for the next best thing – mailings. You should be
prospect slip through the cracks – when they wanted sending material to your prospects on a regular
to buy or sell, they turned to someone else. basis, at the very least on a monthly basis.
While you can’t get the prospect back, you can find Don’t send out the same materials each time. Mix
additional prospects that other agents let drop. things up – send out postcards detailing other
listings in the neighborhood, announcing sales,
That doesn’t in anyway mean we suggest that you monthly newsletters, holiday cards, calendars,
pirate clients from other agents – but you can certainly recipes – think creatively, but make sure your name
follow up with the prospects that are being worked. is in front of the prospect on a regular basis.
Some of the leads you can follow-up on are: Prospecting from Prospects
An essential step is to increase your sphere of
Leads from agents that are no longer with your
influence. As you talk with prospects, ask them if
brokerage – your broker owns the leads and the files,
they know of anyone that might be interested in
but you don’t need to let those leads molder. Ask your
buying or selling.
manager for permission to work these files – even
contact them with an introductory letter for you – then
When to Quit Prospecting
Once you get a steady flow of clients, should you drop You also need to make it attractive for the client to
the people from your database that you haven’t had contact you – what are you offering them that could be
success? Should you just stop prospecting entirely intriguing? If there isn’t anything on the site that
when you get too busy? compels them to contact you, they won’t.
Absolutely not – your business will inevitably hit Prospecting is an on-going effort that can result in a
peaks and valleys. It’s a lot harder to start up from a solid client base, referrals and repeat business. It’s not
complete stand still then it is to step up what was a something to avoid, but something to be embraced.
slow pace. Even if you are busy, commit to working How can you creatively talk with clients (either
your prospects, even if on a smaller scale, or devoting verbally or through the mail)? How can you help these
less time to it. people?
Step 5 Revisions Before long, with a little prospecting, you’ll be doing
the very parts of the job that you love, and you’ll have
conquered your fears as well.
Let’s say you’ve been working your niche area for
About Mike Lesmeister
some time (at least several months) and don’t feel like
anything is going to happen. Rather than stopping
your prospecting efforts, it may be time to revise your Mike Lesmeister’s service focuses on providing
approach. clients with a stress-free lending experience and
helping real estate agents build loyal clients.
First, take a look at your materials – do you clearly
show the difference between you and every other
agent? Are you doing a good job with routinely If you are searching for ways to increase your
contacting prospects? Have you had any feedback referrals and improve client loyalty, contact him
from prospects about changes you need to make? to learn how his strategies can help make a
Next, evaluate your niche market. Is this a potentially
strong market? Is it the market you want to work long-
term? Are there circumstances that have brought about
a change in the market – for instance, rising interest
rates may be affecting new buyers, if your niche is
first time buyers, you may need to re-evaluate, or
certainly revise your marketing efforts.
[Insert Your Picture
Do you need to revise your advertising process? Here]
Maybe you need to invest more money, maybe you
need to pursue other advertising venues. Advertising Click insert >
and name recognition is an important part of real Picture > From File
estate. While you will certainly rely on referrals, you > Select Graphic
need to establish a presence in the market.
Do you have a web site? It’s a powerful tool and it’s
certainly one of the most beneficial prospecting tools. Mike Lesmeister
Unlike most prospecting efforts, your web site allows Home Loan Specialists
customers to contact you. Office: (832) 286-1601
Mobile: (954) 464-4465
However, your website has to be effective. Not only MikeL@HLSTX.com
does it need to show new listings, but it has to relay a www.BlueRibbonAgent.com
strong impression about you and your skills, and of
course, clearly states your USP.
Home Loan Specialists, Inc.
TX Mortgage Broker License No. 81902
3845 FM 1960 West, Suite 193
Houston, TX 77068
Fax: (832) 286-1592